[Trigger warning: Body horror, death, and murder. The entire game involves gory hallucinations. Or are they?]
The second part of Fran Bow Chapter 2 got me thinking even more about the parallels between universes. When Fran wakes up lying down in a basket wearing a bonnet, she finds herself in an unknown kitchen with a note from a certain Clara and Mia. My Monkey Island instincts got me picking up on any and every clickable item in each room of the house, though I somehow managed to miss one or two items again.
The house was decorated with photos and decorative portraits, and it appeared that there were a pair of conjoined twins living there. Upon investigation, they weren’t always conjoined. The house seemed quite lovely and pleasant at first glance with pink and blue floral wallpaper, colorful desserts on display … but that’s where the loveliness ends, I’m afraid. That is where the creepiness truly began. Our protagonist entered a room where a decapitated corpse was lying with the ghost of a girl standing watch, eyes red and blank. Approaching her would only lead to her disappearing from sight.
I have to say that this level was the scariest one yet. Sure, the prologue had the rain of organs and bleeding animals, but it suffered from what I would call The Evil Within effect: so much gore that one becomes desensitized.
The seemingly pretty house was armed with great immersion and amazing sound design. After fully exploring the first and second floors, the ghost of the young girl reappeared now and then. While trying to solve some puzzles, I left the game alone to stare and think. The sounds of the floors creaking, the silent reappearances of the ghost—it really gave me goosebumps. I’m the kind of person who finds the atmosphere more frightening than jump scares and gore.
We soon found Mr. Midnight in the attic, and from their conversation, it appeared that the two communicated with each other in their dreams. However, the cat claimed that he did not recall telling her to take the pills—but since it led Fran to him, he trusted that it played a good role. I feel like this symbolized that medication can still help despite its sometimes negative side effects.
The twins were introduced to us after a complete exploration of the house. They spoke of Fran as if they knew her and said that they belong to “this world.” They ask how she got here, to which she gave them a recap of the past chapter or two before they decided that Fran was to follow their orders due to their seniority (they’re 16 and Fran is 10). The twins not only appeared to be a figure of authority to the younger child, but also symbol of bullying. They threatened to hurt her cat if she did not do as they say.
After the conversation with the twins, Fran is forced to help them break their curse, which would separate the two. The recipe offered explains why Mr. Midnight was caught: his fur and blood were requirements.
Now for the strange part. If I were to take Duotine anywhere inside the house, Fran only sees herself in a large well and nowhere else. No veiny pulsating floor or rain of organs. This further solidifies that the medicine works—to an extent. The only exception is a small space outside the house. She found a toad also trapped in this place as it was needed for that same recipe. Duotine shows the ghost standing on the edge of the pier saying that her sister is trying to hurt her and if Fran could help. The pulsating floor effect is back, too.
Once Fran has defeated the twins in order to free Mr. Midnight, we see a pair of ghosts escaping their body. Each ghost appears identical to the other, but one has a stab wound. This got me wondering: how did they end up the way they did? We came across a pair of skeletons locked in a false mirror with a note about how being called Itward bound them together. It also explained how each twin despises the other. There’s also another bottle of Duotine, but of a different color from the one Fran owns. A photo illustrated the twins conjoined by stitches with scars on their foreheads.
The name Itward rang some bells for me, though. In the first chapter, on the level where the patients with lobotomies lived, there were a pair of twins with the same scars. If one were to view their room on Duotine, the word ITWARD was painted on their wall, and the twins disappeared from view. It felt like the world in which these children supposedly imagine or “hallucinate” actually existed in a separate dimension, or was just shared imagination between people like an MMO server.
Towards the end, Fran received a diary from the toad before they left and it appeared to be written by someone who also hallucinates. It spoke of various creatures and monsters, most of which Fran has encountered or will encounter, and in some ways, it solidifies the idea that all the horrors we see are somewhat real. There was also mentions of a race of plant-like humanoids, which I thought was just someone’s ramblings.
Fran and Mr. Midnight crossed a log bridge to head back towards her aunt, only to be interrupted by the same goat-like demon who has terrorized her from the very beginning. She falls from a very high cliff while Mr. Midnight tries to grab her from the edge. She slips and falls seemingly to her death and the cat follows her down with care.
We then find Mr. Midnight next to a log. A log with a face. When we control him as the player character, it’s upon closer inspection that we realize the log is Fran! The same plant people from the diary show up speaking a foreign language, and with the help of Mr. Midnight, they realize that Fran was originally human. The chapter ends with the plants taking them away on a flying boat. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, eh? Neither did I.
This chapter also had quite a few minigames, and I used to dislike them because I was bad at it. But they sure do challenge my brain muscles! Solving them was just so satisfying.
I quite loved this chapter as it’s probably one of the most complex ones this time around. I look forward to where the story goes next, especially with the sudden change of environment.